Monday, July 23, 2012

Mr. Pork Chop


Sunday was hot and Monday got hotter. With 20,000 cyclists you will never be first, or last, at anything. Never. Get up at 4:30 to be first? Guaranteed that someone is already on the road.

Even if you wanted to sleep in, which on RAGBRAI is until sunrise, it's almost impossible. With our charter we had a camp site and all tents were close together. Someone was always up before sunrise tearing down their tent and dragging their roller bags to the truck. And talking. And so I was up before sunrise.

The daily routine was to roll up the sleeping bag (used to lay on, never to crawl in), dress for the day's ride, smoosh the clothes back into the suitcase, tear down and pack the tent, then take the two bags to the truck. Check the air in the tires, jump on the bike and roll. Breakfast, if at all, would come on the road.

I wore my new Cyclists Combating Cancer kit, thinking of 8 year old Jacob Grecco getting hyperthermia treatments in Germany. 

Schwan Ice Cream Man. Very nice.

RAGBRAI is a celebration of Iowa. Maybe of cycling too, but mostly Iowa. For the host towns it is a major event to be selected. But even for the pass-thru towns like Schaller, it is big.

Churches, schools, civic groups, clubs, and sports teams all come out to greet and welcome the riders. And to sell things, mostly food. But not everyone is selling. Like Punxsutawney with the Groundhog Queen or Meyersdale (Pa.) with the Maple Queen, and thousands of communities with their various themed queens, this town wanted to greet us with their best. And I met Schaller's 2012 Popcorn Queen, Heather Hansen.

Heather Hansen

I only had to walk a few meters through Schaller before being able to jump on the bike and roll. Once back on the road I met Rod Ambelang from Kansas City. We were wearing the same CCC jersey so we talked about -- cancer. We rode for a while before I joined an ill-formed paceline and went down the road.

I wasn't with the paceline long and we broke up when we came to the roadside stand of Mr. Pork Chop, a RAGBRAI tradition. Unfortunately, so is the stupid tradition of rides going by yelling "Mr. Pork CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!" For $7 I got a chop so thick that I could not eat the entire thing. But I tried it.

At Sac City I stopped to see the World's Largest Popcorn Ball. It's a celebration of Iowa and the Sac City natives were proud of their ball.

After Sac City I caught Rod again. We rode together the last 10 miles to Lake View and then said goodbye.
Rod Ambelang, Barry Sherry

Once I got to camp and set up, I surmised the situation. I just rode 65 miles. It was 100 degrees. I could shower, put on clothes, then sweat through them. Or --  I could ride.

I asked a local how far it was around the lake and she told me seven miles. So I did five loops of the lake trying to keep cool. And seeing if it was foolish to ride 100 miles before tomorrow's century ride.

After a shower I took a shuttle (a wagon pulled by a tractor) into town for a $9 spaghetti dinner at the United Methodist Church. The line, unbeknownst to me when I entered it, was more than one hour, the first 30 minutes spent in the 100 degree sun. Inside we were ushered into the sanctuary until our number was called to eat.

I sat beside a couple and asked Emily Fuhrman where she was from. She said Fort Wayne, Indiana and introduced me to her boyfriend who was from Houston, Ohio (pronounced House-ton, by the way). A small town about 40 miles north of Dayton, I attended school there in 1966-1967. Small world indeed.


  1. It was great chatting with you in Lake View, Barry! You are officially the second person I know from Houston :)

    Emily F.

  2. I'm not "from" Houston -- but we lived near there from 1964-67. My brother points out you could have met 10,000 people on RAGRBRAI and no one would know where Houston is.